I’m at the Romance Writers of America® National Conference in New York City this week, feeling more than a little overwhelmed. My friend Jo Anne Banker and I had no problems on our flight from Houston yesterday. The flight was packed, but the security and customer service folks at both ends were helpful and polite, and the driver who brought us into Manhattan was friendly and funny and got us safely to the immense and gorgeous Marriott Marquis.
New York is all up and down, and the streets are two or three lanes wide, depending on how agressive the surrounding drivers are feeling. What a contrast to the wide open spaces of Houston, where I drive sixty miles a day, forty on the freeway system. Ravi, our driver, said he couldn’t drive sixty miles in Manhattan if he worked at it all day (as he apparently does). You could not pay me enough to drive a block in Manhattan.
The RWA Conference proper does not open until tomorrow morning, but registration was available yesterday, so after we checked into the hotel Jo Anne and I collected our badges and tote bags (filled with goodies and free books) and went to supper with a friend, the wonderful Sharon Sala, who will be receiving RWA’s Lifetime Achievement Award for her impressive body of work on Friday evening.
Jo Anne and I spent today with the Golden Network, the online RWA chapter open to Golden Heart® finalists. We’ve been participating in a Yahoo loop with the rest of the 2011 finalists since late March, and today we got to meet many of them in person. The day included two agent/editor Q&A sessions with a stellar array of industry professionals. And late in the afternoon more than twenty members of the chapter who sold their first books since last year’s meeting were “booted” to alumna status.
This evening I made a quick pass through the annual Readers for Life booksigning. Publishers provide the books for more than five hundred authors, who sign them for fans from both the ranks of the RWA and the general public, and the proceeds go to RWA’s longtime support of literacy programs. I’m told people were lined up from the first floor of the hotel by midafternoon–the signing was on the sixth floor and opened at 5:30. By the time I stopped in around 7, people could enter on the sixth floor, but the ballroom (capacity 2800 people!) was packed with authors (in alphabetical order at row after row of tables stretching nearly the width of the room) and readers (many carrying cartons of books). I stopped to talk with two friends, but we truly could not hear one another.
I’m already hoarse from talking (and doing it in packed rooms full of other women talking just as enthusiastically), and the conference has three days to run. By the time we fly home on Saturday, I’ll probably be whispering. Or writing notes on a little pad of paper.